Welcoming UN sanctions, Seoul urges N. Korea to return to dialogue

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The presidential office said Tuesday it supports the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) adoption of a new resolution for tougher sanctions on North Korea for its sixth nuclear test.

It demanded the Kim Jong-un regime stop further provocations and come to negotiations.

“We highly evaluate the UNSC’s prompt and unanimous adoption of Resolution 2375 today,” said presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun.

“The resolution shows the international community’s consensus and full support for the need for tougher sanctions against the North than the previous Resolution 2371.”

Seoul also called on Pyongyang to realize that its reckless defiance toward global peace will only cause tougher pressure by international society.

“We urge the North to stop testing the international community’s stern will. We stress that the only way for the North to get out of diplomatic isolation and economic pressure is to come back to the negotiation table for complete, verifiable and irreversible nuclear dismantlement,” Park said.

He said the resolution is meaningful as the international community agreed on tougher sanctions against North Korea, and China and Russia joined the move.

While the resolution did not include a full-scale oil embargo on North Korea but only set limits to its imports of oil, Park said, “President Moon Jae-in had called for the oil supply cut as a symbolic measure. Although it was not a complete cut, the crude oil import freeze and the restrictions on refined petroleum products will reduce the North’s consumption of such products by 30 percent, so we don’t see his call as not bearing any fruit.”

Political parties generally welcomed the new sanctions but expressed regret that the levels of sanctions were weakened compared to the draft, which initially included a full oil embargo and a freeze of Kim’s assets.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) said that the new resolution showed the international community has intensified cooperation on the North Korea issue although the sanctions were less tough than expected.

“The UNSC adopted the resolution in the shortest time since a North Korean provocation has taken place,” Rep. Back Hye-ryun, a spokeswoman for the DPK, said. “It is meaningful as China and Russia all agreed on the sanctions and the limit of oil supplies were included.”

Rep. Son Kum-ju, a spokesman of the minor opposition People’s Party, expressed regret over the omission of a full-scale oil cut and asset freeze on Kim. “Considering that multiple previous sanctions against the North have been only symbolic and lacked practical tools for pressure, this new resolution also seems insufficient to pressure the North,” he said in a statement.

“We are concerned that this resolution will cause a backlash from the North and another provocation.”

The Bareun Party had a similar view. “It is regrettable that various and strong measures in the draft, such as Kim’s asset freeze, were excluded due to opposition from China and Russia,” Jeon Ji-myeong, a party spokesman, said in a statement. “Without a full oil embargo, it is yet to be known whether the sanctions can change the North’s attitude.”

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) urged the government to take more diplomatic efforts to produce tougher pressure on Pyongyang. It also claimed U.S. tactical nuclear weapons should be redeployed here to deter North Korea’s nuclear threat.

“The Moon government needs to abandon the illusion that international pressure can lead to North Korea’s denuclearization,” Rep. Jeong Yong-ki, a spokesman of the LKP, said. “The only and practical option to protect 50 million South Koreans is the redeployment of nuclear weapons.”

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